County court defers a decision on Greg Smith contract for the second time this month

The Malheur County Court tabled a decision on whether to retain county economic development director Greg Smith at its regular meeting Wednesday, June 22. (The Enterprise/FILE).

VALE – The Malheur County Court postponed a decision Wednesday on renewing the $180,000-a-year contract with Greg Smith to continue to oversee local economic development and run the beleaguered Treasure Valley Reload Center project.

During its regular meeting June 22, the court tabled the issue until its June 29 meeting – a day before the current pact with Smith is to expire.

“We are still discussing some things with Greg,” said Ron Jacobs, Malheur County commissioner during the meeting.

Malheur County Commissioner Don Hodges said he agreed with Jacobs.

“We are still in discussions with him about what we are going to do and what we are looking for in the future,” said Hodge.

Smith did not attend the meeting.

The county has retained Smith – through his company Gregory Smith & Company of Heppner – since 2013. Smith is paid $9,000 a month for his economic development duties. In 2017, the county expanded his contract to include the planned Nyssa shipping project, tacking on an additional $6,000 a month.

Smith, a Republican state representative, works part-time on the Malheur County economic development director portion of his contract.

He operates a one-person office in Ontario, staffed by an aide who handles tasks for both the economic development agency and the reload center.

The reload center, touted for years as a major economic game-changer for the county, is designed to allow onion producers to truck their produce into the facility for loading onto rail cars and shipment to the Midwest and East.

The bulk of the center is funded by the state with a $26 million grant and another $3 million in special appropriation made in 2021.

Along with Smith, the rail venture is overseen by the Malheur County Development Corp., a public company created by the county court.

Joyce previously indicated the county will most likely continue its contract with Smith in some manner.

“My guess is it would be like a three-month extension or maybe a sixth-month extension if all the numbers fall into place,” said Joyce earlier in June.

 News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

 Previous coverage

PUBLIC MONEY, PRIVATE EMPIRE: Greg Smith serves many public masters – for a price

Malheur County Court considers renewing Smith’s contract

Economic development: Malheur County officials struggle to tell what $900,000 bought

State board won’t consider emergency $3 million for Nyssa rail center

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